The Green Economy Review: Insight into Green Job Developments Worldwide Volume 7. April-May, 2011
Welcome to Blue Green Canada's Green Economy Review, our monthly round-up of green economic developments across the globe. If you are a new subscriber, you can find past issues here.
In this issue:
Ontario’s Green Energy Act continues to attract manufacturers to the province.
Among the recent developments: United Solar announced the establishment of a facility in LaSalle, Ontario, which is expected to employ 80 people in the manufacture of thin-film laminates. SunGrow Canada opened a solar inverter facility in Vaughan, giving rise to another 50 jobs. Silfab began production at their module manufacturing facility in Mississauga, where they will employ 200 people when at full production. Samsung C&T Corp. and SMA Solar Technology AG announced plans to build solar inverters at Celestica's facilities in Toronto. Kromet International Inc. announced an agreement with Sharp Electronics to supply Sharp panels with Kromet’s solar racking systems, manufactured in Cambridge and Hamilton, Ontario. And Algatec solar announced their plans to establish a solar module manufacturing facility in Windsor.
Outside of the province, First Solar acquired property in Arizona, where they intend to manufacture 250 MWs work of solar modules annually. German solar manufacturer, Mage Solar, announced plans to open an assembly plant in Georgia, USA. Helios USA opened a module manufacturing facility in Milwaukee. Vestas is expected to re-open their wind turbine manufacturing plant on the Isle of Wight. And GE is said to be scouting sites for a thin-film solar panel factory.
Despite reports that Canada is falling behind in green job creation, some regions of the country are expecting an influx of green jobs. One such region is Windsor Essex, where job creation in the wind and solar industries is anticipated to ramp up rapidly this summer thanks to a number of manufacturing facilities which have already begun or are expected to begin production in the area. B.C. is also expected to add a number of green jobs in the months to come as Canada’s first offshore wind-farm was given the go-ahead.
A 130-turbine Cape Wind project, off Massachusetts, was also approved recently, and is expected to create 600 to 1,000 jobs during the construction phase and 150 permanent jobs during operations.
Green jobs are also proving to be attractive to job seekers here in Canada. 3000 people came out to compete for one of 50 new jobs at Unconquered Sun, a solar manufacturer in Windsor. And Canadian students are reportedly flocking to environment-related programs across the country.
In the U.S., the Bureau of Labor estimates that nearly 60,000 people are now employed in the solar and wind industries. Reports out of Michigan, Tennessee, Vermont and Ohio also report that green jobs are on the rise in those states. And a study out of California estimated that the state would be home to 211,000 green jobs in 2020, and the next step is to ensure decent wages and lower staff turnover to improve quality.
As green jobs continue to crop up and global demand for renewable energy continues to rise, the possibility of a skills gap and the need for training remains of concern. For example, a recent report from Deloitte cites labour shortages in Europe and North American and argues that “in 2011 and beyond, governments will need to promote workforce development, as well as job creation, if the anticipated benefits of the green economy are to be realised.” The Centre for Alternative Technology in the U.K. also warns of a looming labour shortage, citing a lack of trainers, facilities and financing.
In response to this shortage, a number of training initiatives and programs have been launched across the U.S. Among them:
- U.S. Department of Labor has created a Green Jobs Innovation Fund to support opportunities for workers to receive job training in green industry sectors and occupations.
- Southwestern College in San Diego has launched a certification program which will provide instruction on green building codes, alternative energy, and energy audits and energy efficiency retrofitting.
- Saginaw Valley State University, in Michigan, will offer four classes for green job training, covering topics including green buildings, energy audits and retrofits and solar installation.
- The Detroit Regional Workforce Fund has been allocated $600,000 to facilitate green jobs training for low-skilled Detroiters.
Outside the U.S, the British Government announced that it will help fund the training of 1000 apprenticeships as part of its flagship Green Deal programme, and the Scottish government announced plans to create Green Academies to train a "green army" to install environmentally friendly technology at homes in the country.
A report from the Pew Charitable Trust finds that China is widening its lead in the clean energy race. Using total investment in renewable energy as the measure, the U.S. is now in third place, behind China and Germany. Canada ranks 7th.
The World Economic Forum and Bloomberg New Energy Finance both echoed the Pew’s findings, reporting that 2010 was a record year for renewable energy investments, thanks largely to the global economic recovery, and China is now in a clear leadership position. Bloomberg also reports that grid parity for solar is likely just around the corner.
Looking forward, Frost & Sullivan predict that the market for green technologies will grow to $800 Billion by 2012. Canada is expected to attract some of that investment, as it retained its ninth-place position in Ernst and Young’s Renewable Energy Attractiveness Index.
Here in Ontario, Clear Sky Advisors have downgraded their predictions for solar installations in the province, but they still believe Ontario will become the largest North American market. Clear Sky cites a lack of clarity in a government approval process as the chief reason for the downgrade.
Also in Ontario, a report co-authored by the Niagara Workforce Planning Board, the Hamilton Training Advisory Board and the Workforce Planning Board of Grand Erie, argued that the region should embrace clean technologies, it they wish “to remain competitive in the international community.”
The nuclear crisis in Japan and continued unrest in the Middle East are bolstering the case for renewable energy, according to a number of reports, including analysts at Price Waterhouse Coopers.
In weeks following the Fukushima disaster, solar stocks rallied as investors bet that countries would scrap nuclear in favour of wind and solar, much as Germany suspended their nuclear policy and announced plans to speed up the deployment of renewables.
Wind energy leaders, such as Vestas CEO, Ditlev Engel, are also optimistic that rising oil prices and the increasing severity of climate change bode well for the future of wind.
And a leak and spill of hydro-fracking liquids in Pennsylvania may also augment the case for green energy.
Government polices and targets continue to drive renewable energy development. Recent announcements include:
- The Yukon Territory is said to be looking into net metering for solar and wind power producers.
- Italy took steps to renew confidence in the nation’s solar industry, and removed the cap on solar incentives.
- Solar industry leaders cautioned that cuts to the FIT program in the U.K. could cost 30,000 jobs. Ditlev Engel, CEO of Vestas, also said that uncertainty on subsidies for wind power could cost the U.K. thousands of jobs.
- The California Legislature approved a bill that would require utilities to obtain at least 33% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020.
- Legislation to allow homeowners to pay for energy efficiency improvements through charges on fuel bills may be moving ahead in New York.
- Lawmakers in New Jersey are looking at a bill to make it more attractive for local solar businesses to buy equipment made in New Jersey.
- Malaysia joined neighbouring Thailand and Taiwan in implementing a Feed –in Tariff program.
The green economy continues to recruit impressive amounts of capital. Notable announcements include:
- British equity firm, Terra Firma Capital, may invest almost $700 million in clean energy in 2011.
- Warren Buffet’s MidAmerican Utility is installing considerable amounts of wind capacity, and may be poised to be the national leader.
- Ottawa-based Plasco Energy Group secured $140 million a new round of financing led by Soros Fund Management LLC.
- Shalivahana Green Energy is hoping to raise $30 million, half equity and half debt, from the International Finance Corporation, the private investment arm of the World Bank.
- The Carbon Trust and Siemens have partnered to provide green finance worth up to £550 million over the next three years for U.K. businesses.
- Emirates-based Masdar has secured $615 million of bank financing and $153 million in equity for the world's largest concentrated solar power plant.
- London’s Mayor, Boris Johnson, announced a £70 million fund to finance low carbon waste and recycling infrastructure.
- The African Development Bank has established a $57 million fund for renewable energy projects across the continent.
- Two Danish pension funds are expected to invest more than $1 billion in an offshore wind farm in Denmark.
- Google announced plans to invested €3.5 million in a German photovoltaic installation and $168 million in a solar power project in California.
A number of international developments have taken place over the last couple months. Among them:
- Estonia plans to retain its subsidies for renewable energy to quell any uncertainty and enable them to meet their renewable energy targets.
- Romania is expected to implement one of the most generous renewable energy schemes in the EU.
- Bulgaria's renewable energy capacity beat expectations, and grew by 67 percent in 2010.
- The African Carbon Exchange was launched in Nairobi.
- Energy officials in South Africa say they will increase deployment of renewables to meet their target of 10,000 gigawatt hours by 2013.
- China’s 5 year plan, released last month, has a decisively green hue, and included hard energy efficiency and pollution-reduction targets and significant new investment in renewable sources of energy.
- The Italian government has reversed itself and removed the cap on green energy subsidies to restore confidence in the sector.
- Algeria announced plans to develop a domestic renewable energy industry and spend $60 billion on green energies and policies by 2030.
- The Government of Barbados has joined with the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) to launch a Partnership for a Resource-Efficient Green Economy in Barbados, which will begin with a 6-month-long Green Economy Scoping Study (GESS).